When Shopping Siren was a teenager oh so many years ago (sometime after dinosaurs and before Justin Bieber), prom was an elegant yet down-to-earth affair. Think pretty dresses and special up 'dos, your boyfriend's parents' car and the high school gym decked out in crepe paper and pastel balloons.
So it's with some consternation — and, OK, a smidgen of envy — that I read prom now costs the equivalent of a nice Caribbean vacation.
That's nearly $1,100 on average, almost $2,000 spent by families in the Northeast, according to a survey by Visa. For the dress and special up do, sure, but also dinner, flowers, pictures, accommodations, after parties and limousine rental.
Because who doesn't love a good limousine?
But while all out prom spending may be The Thing To Do nowadays, it's completely possible to get around a $2,000 tab without sacrificing style. Look good, save money, have a blast.
That extra cash will probably come in handy sometime soon. I hear college costs a little more now than when I was a kid, too.
* Morgan & Co. ballgown, size 11/12, Ragamuffins, $34.75
Gently used sky blue, floor-length strapless ballgown tastefully covered in small, flower-shaped sparkles. Just enough bling to be noticed, but not so dazzling that your date will be forced to spend the entire evening looking away at a dark corner in an effort to save his sight. Which is a good thing.
* Copper sequined clutch, Fashion Bug, $4.98
Great for carrying prom night cellphone, makeup, mirror, hairbrush, hairspray, touch up nail polish and emergency lip gloss. Oh yeah, and all the cash you've saved.
* Necklace and earring set, Fashion Bug, $3.98
Glass bead necklace and earring sets in a variety of colors, including blue, purple, clear and smoke. The necklaces each have a sparkly round bead bordered on each side by a row of smaller glass beads, while the earrings contain a pair of dangling beads. Simple but elegant, the perfect complement to any prom dress. The perfect compliment: "Wow, you look amazing."
* Nail decal or pedicure set, Fashion Bug, $4.98
Nail decal set comes with two jars of polish, a mini nail file and teeny tiny curlicue stickers. The pedicure sets come with two jars of polish, a mini nail file and a toe separator. There are some things you don't want to DIY for the prom (your date's haircut immediately comes to mind), but nails are a no-brainer. Paint, dry, go. Just don't forget the dry.
* Madden Girl Sookiee-style heels, variety of sizes, Famous Footwear, $19.99
Gold, glittery slingback with a round toe and 4½-inch heel. If you can dance in these, you are a better woman than I am.
Best find: Gown sale rack, Ragamuffins, $10
Yes, you saw that right: gowns for $10. Some even still have the tags on them! My favorites included a short, black Rampage dress with ruching along the bodice and sequins along the V neck and drop waist, size medium (looked about a 6); floor-length, red strapless dress by Michelangelo, size 16; and floor-length tangerine David's Bridal gown with a smattering of sequins along the bodice, size 22. Tons of sizes, colors and styles. Get one while the getting is good.
Think twice: Spending almost $2,000 on prom
I feel like a curmudgeon saying this, but really? Really? When did spending two grand on a school dance become normal? Obviously sometime after I graduated. (Dang.)
Shopping Siren's true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who want to know where their favorite snowbank went) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at email@example.com.